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I'm wanting to start reloading for my DPMS .223. Searching for used SB (small base) dies on e-bay, one poster claimed the RCBS S

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  • I'm wanting to start reloading for my DPMS .223. Searching for used SB (small base) dies on e-bay, one poster claimed the RCBS S

    I'm wanting to start reloading for my DPMS .223. Searching for used SB (small base) dies on e-bay, one poster claimed the RCBS SB dies wouldn't work. Some non-such about .223 won't cycle in a 5.56mm rifle or vice versa. Before I go to laying out money for dies I can't use, can somebody (WAM? Clay? any od you military guys!) give us "civies" the "low down" on the differences between the military 5.56mm ans the civilian .223 Rem? ...or is the difference merely cartridge "designation"? Only difference I can ascertain (and I dang sure don't claim to be a gun smith!) is the head stamp! Thanks!

  • #2
    I have very little experience with these calibers, but I ran across this. Might be a start...

    le.atk.com/downloads/technical_bulletins/223VS556.pdf

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    • #3
      Guess I should have done a bit more research.
      According to the article I read, the exterior dimensions of the 5.56 NATO round and the .223 Remington are identical. (within manufacturers deviation)
      The 5.56 NATO case has a heavier wall than the .223 Rem round. That alone causes pressure fluctuations, but nothing critical.
      The "hullabaloo" comes to light when "mil-spec" requires an M16 chamber to have a "leade" (what us non-smithy types refer to as "throat") of .165 while the civilian AR rifles have a leade of .080. Military ammo loaded to match the .165 leade can contact the rifling in a "civilian" chambered rifle, which can cause some critical pressure problems. Flattened and leaking primers seemed to be the biggest problem.
      ATK and Armalite did extensive testing and after many thousands of rounds, had no major malfunction.
      Armalite did reveal that most AR's are now manufactured to M16 spec with the longer leade.
      Other than the crimped primers in military brass, I see no problem.
      WAM?
      Clay?

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      • #4
        Question No. 2:
        What's the plus of a .223 "taper crimp" as compared to a "roll" crimp?
        Is the difference significant?

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        • #5
          The .223, I'm told, is loaded to an average pressure of 52,000 CUP. The military 5.56mm ammunition is loaded to a significantly higher chamber pressure. As mentioned, military ammunition utilizes a longer, heavier bullet...which requires a faster rate-of-twist to stabilize the bullet. I've used military ammunition (62 or 69 grain bullet) in my Howa 1500 and Winchester M70 bolt action rifles, and the pressure differences were easily tolerated by these solid actions but accuracy suffered at 100 yds. I grouped in the same area code, but it wasn't close to the sub-MOA I get with my handloads.

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          • #6
            I overlooked Question #2! As I understand it, the consistency of a roll crimp is somewhat dependent on case neck length, and that variable is better controlled with a taper crimp, which sized the neck against the sides of the bullet. I use the taper crimp (separate die) for my varmint/target ammunition. I use the roll crimp for hunting and plinking ammo.

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            • #7
              Thanx EJP!
              I'm not concerned with military ammo, per se. Whar I've got is some once fired military brass.
              The guy on e-bay stated he used RCBS small base dies and his military brass reloads still wouldn't cycle in his civilian chambered AR.
              It was enough to raise my suspicion. I had heard various stories but hadn't checked it out.
              I just moved my loading equipment into the house and wanted to start reloading again and this popped up.
              Just wanted to resolve any problems before burning up money por nada.
              Best I can tell, the brass may be a bit harder to resize and deprime, but that's no biggie. As far as swaging the primer pockets.... Well, that's just more bench time! LOL!

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              • #8
                Also, I believe the taper crimp was designed for the .45acp as that headspaces on the edge of the case, therefore the roll crimp can not be used.

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                • #9
                  Mostly correct. Mil spec 5.56 is loaded to higher pressure than .223 Rem. Short leade on a SAMMI spec .223 can lead to higher pressure spikes. Exterior dimensions of the cartridges are identical. You should check the chamber of your AR to make sure it is 5.56 mil spec and not .223 Rem. I don't have time to reload .223 no more than I shoot them. I have plenty of prior practice with them.

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                  • #10
                    I used RCBS Small Base dies for the .308 Win and they worked perfectly. I will say the cases need to be properly lubed or you invite a stuck case, but I think highly of RCBS dies. I use Redding and Hornady dies as well, but I have no criticism of the small base dies I used.
                    I agree with you, military brass presents a few issues (crimped primers, thicker case walls near the base) but I suspect the eBay seller wasn't well prepared to cope with those conditions and blamed it on the dies. When you lube the brass, lube the cartridge cases down to the base.

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                    • #11
                      There zalotta good info on both cartridges on Wikipedia.

                      Or just call Huntington's.

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                      • #12
                        Kinda what I figured, WAM. But I'm not wanting to shoot military ammo, just reload military brass. Military brass may cause some pressure increases, but nothing catastrophic.
                        EJP
                        I have RCBS SB dies for my 6.8mm Rem SPC. It swallows reloads like a kid with M&M's. I've never had the first glitch, except finding a starting charge, which is 26 grs IMR 4895.
                        All my equipment is RCBS except my case polisher. It's a Lyman Turbo and does a tremendous job.

                        Thanks guys!

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                        • #13
                          EJP
                          Side note:
                          Above my new bench hangs a "mangled" .270 Win case.
                          I had resized a butt load of cases and put up my case lube pad. I found "one more" case and figured the sizing die had enough lube to handle "one more" case. WRONG!
                          Even my RCBS "Stuck Case Remover" refused to budge the recalcitrant case.
                          I finally ground the tang of a rat tail file at about a 45° angle, removed the decapping pin and gently chiselled the case out of the die.
                          The tang of the file was harder than the brass but never fazed the die interior.
                          The mangled case reminds me "NEVER" try to resize an unlubed case!

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